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Parenting

Hobby Lobby Recalls 43,000 Light-Up Spinner Toys

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Hobby Lobby is recalling about 43,000 children’s battery-powered, light-up spinner toys sold in two themes: Easter and July 4th. The Easter-themed toys were sold in blue with a pink bunny on the dome and yellow with a yellow and orange chicken on the dome. The July 4th spinners are red with white stars painted on the blue dome. “Hobby Lobby” and item number 9130033 or 9130082 is printed on the spinner handle. Three LR44 coin cell batteries power the spinners.

The battery cover can detach and expose the small coin cell batteries, posing choking and ingestion hazards to young children.

Hobby Lobby has received one report of a 14-month-old child who ingested the battery.

Consumers should immediately take the recalled spinners away from children and return them to the nearest Hobby Lobby or Mardel store. Consumers with a receipt will receive a full refund and consumers without a receipt will receive a store credit.

The spinners were sold at Hobby Lobby and Mardel stores nationwide from February 2017 to April 2017 for about $5.

Consumers can contact Hobby Lobby Stores at 800-326-7931 between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. ET Monday through Friday, or online at www.hobbylobby.com and click on the Recall tab for more information.

Story source: https://www.cpsc.gov/Recalls/2017/Hobby-Lobby-Recalls-Easter-and-July-4th-Light-Up-Spinner-Toys

Parenting

Is Your Child Becoming an Emotional Eater?

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You may be tempted to appease your child with food after a fall or tears for short-term relief, but this could actually set your child up for long-term unhealthy eating patterns.

What happens is that children begin to identify eating with self-comforting or relieving boredom instead of nutrition or eating when they’re actually hungry.

Almost all children, teens, and adults may engage in emotional eating at one time or another.

Hunger associated with emotional eating comes on quickly and feels urgent. It's often triggered by a specific event or mood. It's not like typical physical hunger, which gradually builds and is a result of an empty stomach. Physical hunger can be satisfied by a number of different foods, but cravings usually involve particular foods. Examples might be ice cream or candy after a fight with a friend or a tough day at school.

Why is emotional eating unhealthy? Emotional eating isn’t really about hunger or nutrition; it’s about filling an emotional need. It can lead to overeating and over time, lead to extra weight gain or obesity. It also sets up a pattern of handling uncomfortable situations by eating instead of by learning how to solve social and psychological problems.

There are lots of reasons kids may seek out food for comfort such as:

  • Anger
  • Boredom
  • Change
  • Confusion
  • Depression
  • Frustration
  • Loneliness
  • Loss
  • Resentment
  • Stress

Even positive emotions such as excitement and happiness can result in emotional eating once it becomes a go-to as a reward. 

If you notice signs of emotional eating in your child, talk to him or her about your concerns. Be gentle. Stay positive. Helping your child might be as simple as having a warm and loving conversation.

Help your child develop a healthy response to his or her problems, such as focusing on solutions. Encourage your child to talk about the emotions that trigger his or her emotional eating. Brainstorm other ways to deal with those emotions. For example, your child could exercise or become involved in sports when he or she feels stressed out, or call a friend when he or she is bored.

Emotional eating can be learned, so your influence as a parent or primary caregiver is one key to prevention. Be sure to model healthy eating habits for your child. Also, avoid using food to celebrate occasions or to reward your child for good behavior. Instead, use verbal praise and give other types of rewards (for example, stickers for a young child or a fun activity with an older child).

There are signs you can look for in children to let you know if your child is an emotional eater. They are:

  • Eating in response to emotions or situations, not to satisfy hunger
  • Feeling an urgent need to eat
  • Craving a specific food or type of food
  • Eating a larger amount of food than usual
  • Eating at unusual times of day (for example, late at night)
  • Gaining excess weight
  • Feeling embarrassed or guilty about eating
  • "Sneaking" food during high-stress times
  • Hiding empty containers of food

A recent study from Norway found that kids offered food for comfort at ages 4 and 6 displayed more emotional eating at ages 8 and 10.

Also, the researchers found signs that kids who felt more easily comforted by food were fed more by parents for that purpose.

Emotional eating typically starts early in life but can really begin at any age; it seems like an easy fix for anxiety at the time, but can lead to health problems if not brought under control.

Story source: https://familydoctor.org/emotional-eating-in-children-and-teens/

Parenting

Prince Harry and Helping Grieving Children

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When the world poured out its grief over the loss of Princess Diana in a tragic accident, her 12 –year-old son, Prince Harry, shut down emotionally. Like many children who lose a parent or loved one, it was more than he could handle on his own.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, he said it was not until his late 20s that he processed the grief - after two years of "total chaos" and coming close to a "complete breakdown".

It was when his family intervened and begged him to get counseling that he came face to face with the consequences of delayed grief and healing.

Prince Harry told the Telegraph, “"I can safely say that losing my mum at the age of 12, and therefore shutting down all of my emotions for the last 20 years, has had a quite serious effect on not only my personal life but my work as well."

He added: "I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions when all sorts of grief and all sorts of lies and misconceptions and everything are coming to you from every angle."

Prince Harry’s experience is not all that different from other children who suffer the loss of an important family member. His life played out in public because of whom he is, but the same feelings of anxiety, detachment and mental anguish are felt by millions of others children that do not get the grief support and counseling they need to move through such a difficult time.

Prince Harry’s attitude was common for a child trying to deal with death. "My way of dealing with it was sticking my head in the sand, refusing to ever think about my mum, because why would that help?"

"(I thought) it's only going to make you sad, it's not going to bring her back. So from an emotional side, I was like 'right, don't ever let your emotions be part of anything,'" he said.

How do you help a child put the death of a mother, father, sibling or beloved grandparent or friend in perspective? The first place you can start is to reach out for professional help; someone trained in children’s grief counseling.

It can be challenging to parents and caregivers to know what to do for, what to say to and how to help children who are obviously hurting.

There are resources online that will link you to specific sites that deal with grief and children. One site is The National Alliance for Grieving Children at https://childrengrieve.org/about-childhood-grief

There are certain responses that are common for children to go through that parents can and should be aware of:

Grief is a normal reaction to loss: When children experience the death of a person who has played a significant role in their life, it is normal for children to struggle, whether the relationship with that person was caring and loving, or contentious and difficult. Grief is not a problem we are trying to fix for a child; it is an experience they are living. Mood changes or feelings of grief, even several years out from the event, are a common part of adapting to life without someone and to the changes that come with that person's death. Children need adults to be patient with them as they adjust to these changes.

Children need to know the truth: Quite often we avoid words like "dead" or "die," or we shade over the truth about how a person died in a desire to protect children. Unfortunately, in doing so, we often create other problems. Although it may be challenging to share the truth about how someone died, honest answers build trust, help provide understanding and allow children to feel comfortable approaching us with questions because they know they can trust us to tell them the truth.

Grieving children often feel alone and misunderstood: Many well-meaning adults try to avoid mentioning the departed loved one for fear of bringing up painful memories or adding to a child’s sadness. In doing so, children might feel as though talking about or even expressing their grief is not acceptable. When children feel understood by family and friends and when they have the opportunity to express their grief in their own unique way, they feel less alone and, in turn, fare better than they would otherwise. 

There are also camps and groups that children can attend that give them the opportunity to be with other children that have experienced the same kind of loss. Greater than any education, information or advice we can give to children who are grieving is to allow children who are grieving to connect with other children going through a similar experience. When children have the opportunity to interact with one another, they feel less alone.

Helping a child through the grieving process is difficult, but you do not have to do it alone. You can find support for yourself with other families and family grief counselors that can give you the tools and insights you need to move forward. There is no timetable on grief; it’s a process – one day at a time.

Prince Harry finally reached out for help, almost 20 years after the death of his mother. He needed it much sooner, but like a lot of folks, he felt like he could bury his feelings and the pain would go away. It didn’t until he was finally able to express it and learn about it and come to terms with the loss of his beloved mum.

Story sources: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39618169

https://childrengrieve.org

Your Toddler

Does Parents’ Obesity Impact Toddlers’ Developmental Skills?

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Children, whose parents are obese, may show signs of developmental delays by the time they are 3 years old, according to a new study.

The specific developmental problems seem to differ depending on whether the mother, father or both parents are obese, according to researchers from the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

"Specifically, mothers' obesity was associated with a delay in achieving fine-motor skills, and fathers' obesity in achieving personal and social skills -- that includes skills for interacting with others," said lead researcher Edwina Yeung. She's an investigator in the institute's division of intramural population health research.

"When both parents were obese, it meant longer time to develop problem-solving skills," she added.

Not everyone agrees with the researchers’ conclusion. At least one pediatric neurologist suggests that the results don’t necessarily prove a direct cause and effect.

And Yeung acknowledges the same. "We used observational data, which doesn't allow us to prove cause and effect, per se," she explained.

What the researchers found was interesting though. Compared with children of normal-weight mothers, children of obese mothers were 67 percent more likely to fail a test of fine-motor skills (using their hands and fingers) by age 3.

In addition, children of obese fathers were about 71 percent more likely to fail tests of personal and social skills, which may indicate how well they relate to and interact with others, by age 3, the researchers said.

Children whose mother and father were both obese were nearly three times more likely to fail tests of problem-solving ability by age 3, according to the researchers’ findings.

Most research into understanding child health and development has focused on mothers and their pregnancies. "Our findings suggest that factors from fathers may also play a role and deserve attention," Yeung said.

One child health expert doesn't think obese parents should be overly concerned by this study.

"Children of obese parents are not doomed to have developmental problems," said Dr. Ian Miller. He is a pediatric neurologist and director of Neuroinformatics at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami.

There’s a long list of other conditions that can also impact the brain such as lead-poisoning, sickle cell disease, iron-deficiency anemia, autism, epilepsy or cerebral palsy—any of which can cause developmental problems, Miller said. He isn't ready, however, to add obesity to that list.

But, obesity may increase the risks of these health problems, Miller says. The probability for developmental problems is low among all children, including those of obese parents. "It's not a 'sky is falling' type of scenario," he said.

For the study, Yeung and her colleagues collected data on more than 5,000 women and their children who were part of the Upstate KIDS study, which sought to determine if fertility treatments could affect child development from birth through age 3.

The women were enrolled in the study about four months after giving birth in New York state, excluding New York City, between 2008 and 2010.

About one in five pregnant women in the United States is overweight or obese, Yeung said.

To check the children's development, parents completed the Ages and Stages Questionnaire after doing a series of activities with their children, Yeung said.

The test doesn't diagnose specific problems, but is a screen for potential problems, so that children can be referred for further testing, she explained.

The children were tested at 4 months and six more times through age 3 years. Mothers also gave information on their health and weight, both before and after pregnancy, and the weight of their partners, Yeung said.

More studies are needed to further examine if there is a link between obese parents and their offspring’s developmental skills, Yeung said.

The report was published online Jan. 2 in the journal Pediatrics.

Story Source: Steven Reinberg, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20170103/can-parents-weight-hinder-toddlers-development#1

Your Toddler

AAP: Winter Car Seat Safety

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So far in Texas, this year’s El Nino weather pattern has made for a pretty mild winter compared to previous years. But, other areas around the country are being hit hard with a wintery punch and it’s only a matter of time till temperatures drop and snow and ice find their way to the Lone Star State.

Winter can be a bit tricky for child car seat use. While it sounds like the opposite might be true, bulky clothing such as coats and snowsuits should not be worn under the car seat harness.

More padding - more cushion right? That seems logical until you know what happens when a car crashes. In a wreck, fluffy padding immediately flattens out from the force, leaving extra space under the harness. A child can then slip through the straps and be thrown from the seat.

So how can you keep your little one warm and protected while buckled up? The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has these tips to help strike a comfortable and safer balance.

·      Use a coat or blanket over the straps. You can add a blanket over the top of the harness straps or put your child's winter coat on backwards (over the buckled harness straps) after he or she is buckled up. Some parents prefer products such as poncho-style coats or jackets that zip down the sides so the back can flip forward over the harness. Keep in mind that the top layer should be removable so your baby doesn't get too hot after the car warms up.

·      Use a car seat cover ONLY if it does not have a layer under the baby. Nothing should ever go underneath your child's body or between her body and the harness straps. Be sure to leave baby's face uncovered to avoid trapped air and re-breathing. Many retailers carry car seat bundling products that are not safe to use in a car seat. Just because it's on the shelf at the store does not mean it is safe!

·      Dress your child in thin layers. Start with close-fitting layers on the bottom, like tights, leggings, and long-sleeved bodysuits. Then add pants and a warmer top, like a sweater or thermal-knit shirt. Your child can wear a thin fleece jacket over the top. In very cold weather, long underwear is also a warm and safe layering option. As a general rule of thumb, infants should wear one more layer than adults. If you have a hat and a coat on, your infant will probably need a hat, coat, and blanket.

·      Don't forget hats, mittens, and socks or booties. These help keep kids warm without interfering with car seat straps. If your child is a thumb sucker, consider half-gloves with open fingers or keep an extra pair or two of mittens handy — once they get wet they'll make your child colder rather than warmer.

·      Get an early start. If you're planning to head out the door with your baby in tow on winter mornings, you need an early start. You have a lot to assemble, and your baby may not be the most cooperative. Plus, driving in wintry conditions will require you to slow down and be extra cautious.

·      Tighten the straps of the car seat harness. Even if your child looks snuggly bundled up in the car seat, multiple layers may make it difficult to tighten the harness enough. If you can pinch the straps of the car seat harness, then it needs to be tightened to fit snugly against your child's chest.

·      Remember, if the item did not come with the car seat, it has not been crash tested and may interfere with the protection provided in a crash. Never use sleeping bag inserts or other stroller accessories in the car seat.

·      Store the carrier portion of infant seats inside the house when not in use. Keeping the seat at room temperature will reduce the loss of the child's body heat in the car.

·      Pack an emergency bag for your car. Keep extra blankets, dry clothing, hats and gloves, and non-perishable snacks in your car in case of an on-road emergency or your child gets wet on a winter outing.

·      Make sure your cell phone is charged. If there is an emergency, you want to be able to reach 911 or call for assistance in case of a flat tire or engine trouble.

This is a time when there is a lot of holiday travel from state to state or just down the road to grandma’s house.

Remember, it’s not just children in car seats whose coats shouldn’t be tucked under the harness, adults and older children should make sure their coats are on the outside of the seat-belt.

Little steps can make a big difference in everyone’s safety.

Source: https://healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/on-the-go/Pages/Winter-Car-Seat-Safety-Tips.aspx

Parenting

Day Care Doesn’t Boost Weight Gain in Kids

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With three out of five American children in some type of daycare arrangement, parents are often concerned about whether their child is eating a healthy diet when they can’t supervise what they are being served.

Previous studies have suggested that kids in daycare were more likely to gain excess weight, but a new study says other factors linked to obesity were not considered in earlier research.

"When we implemented these more sophisticated analytical approaches, we found that association really went away," said study author Dr. Inyang Isong, an instructor at Harvard Medical School and a pediatrician with Boston Children's Hospital.

"We cannot say that sending a child to day care makes your child overweight ," Isong continued. "We just don't have enough evidence to say that."

Given that so many children are in daycare, the updated analysis is good news for parents.

 Pediatricians and parents have had longstanding concerns that childcare might increase a young one’s risk of gaining weight, said Dr. Allison Driansky, an attending pediatrician at Cohen Children's Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

Most states do not have strict regulations regarding diet and exercise provided at day care, Isong and Driansky said.

"The concern was anytime you take control out of a parent's hands about what a child is eating or what a child is doing during a day, that could lead to obesity," Driansky said. "Not every parent is lucky enough to have a top-of-the-line day care. I think there was some concern that the day care wouldn't cooperate with what a parent wants for their child."

The new study included data from about 10, 700 U.S. children from diverse social, economic and ethnic backgrounds.

Factors such as the child’s gender, race, age and weight of the mother, family economic and social status, how many parents lived at home and the quality of the neighborhood were included in the analysis.

While the results pointed to no association between daycare and weight gain, Isong noted that this study "is not in any way full proof." Such proof would involve a clinical trial in which children would be randomly assigned to either childcare or home care.

The study did however offer a more detailed look at daycare and weight gain.

"We tried to control for a vast array of factors that could influence decisions to place children in child care," Isong said. "When we controlled for all those factors, the association went away."

Parents have the final say in what their children eat and do when they are not in daycare. Parents can encourage their little ones to be active, play outdoors and when old enough, find a sport they enjoy. Sugary drinks (including juices) should be limited and plenty of fruits and vegetables encouraged. Many experts recommend that children not watch TV before the age of two and that it be limited to 1 hour a day after that.

The study was published online in the October edition of the journal Pediatrics.

Story source: Dennis Thompson, http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20161010/day-care-doesnt-encourage-weight-gain-in-kids#2

Your Child

Why Kids Should Learn Handwriting

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I think it’s fair to say that handwriting is becoming a lost art. Computers, tablets and phone keyboards have made actual writing with a pen and paper almost obsolete.

What was once an integral part of a child’s daily school lessons, today, gets about one-fourth the instruction time. What is surprising is that in the not too far future, some kids may never learn penmanship at all.

If keyboards become the most popular form of communication, is there really a need for printing and cursive skills? Yes, according to some educators. Not only will children lose the personal touch of handwriting but will they also lose the benefits learning penmanship offers the developing brain.

Putting pen to paper stimulates brain circuits involved with memory, attention, motor skills, and language in a way punching a keyboard doesn't.

"There is this assumption that we live in the computer age, and we don't need handwriting anymore. That's wrong," says Virginia Berninger, PhD, a professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington.

Indiana University psychologist Karin James, PhD, recently published a study looking at brain scans of preschoolers before and after they learned to produce letters, either by printing or typing. Before the lesson, the children couldn't decipher between a random shape and a letter, and their brains responded similarly to each. After they learned to hand-draw a letter, brain regions needed for reading lit up at the sight of the letter like they do in a literate adult. Learning to type a letter yielded no such change.

Other studies have shown that preschoolers that practice handwriting read better in elementary school.

Handwriting also requires concentration and teaches brain circuits responsible for motor coordination, vision, and memory to work together. "If in the future we were to take away teaching handwriting altogether, I worry there could be real negative impacts on children's development," James says.

Timed right, cursive also comes with some unique advantages. Berninger's research suggests kids who link their letters via cursive get a better handle on what those words look like and end up being better spellers, she says. Cursive also allows them to compose their thoughts faster than in block handwriting or via typing (at least until about seventh grade, when their brains become mature enough to manage two-handed typing quickly).

Berninger says parents can offer their children extra guidance with learning handwriting even before their child begins school and through their early years. Some children may learn these skills quicker and some may need a little more practice. But on an average:

Preschoolers can strengthen motor skills by playing with clay, stringing beads, working through mazes, and connecting dots with arrows to form letters.

From kindergarten through second grade, children should master block letters.

Third to fourth grade is when kids can begin and master cursive.

By fifth grade, children should continue to write by hand while being introduced to typing by touch (not just hunt and peck.)

As I’ve become more accustomed to using my computer or phone to communicate with others, I’ve noticed that my own handwriting skills are beginning to suffer. Cursive isn’t as fluid and readable as when I handwrote more often and my eye, hand and pen coordination isn’t near as comfortable as it used to be. 

I hope future generations will not lose the art of handwriting, not only because of the developmental benefits it offers, but because each person’s handwriting is unique to them.

Story source: Lisa Marshall, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/handwriting-matters-kids#1

Your Child

Tips for Grandparents Caring for Grandkids

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Summers often provide grandparents the opportunity to spend extra time with the grandkids. While parents continue their work schedule, grandpa and grandma lovingly spoil their little ones. Many grandparents are actually raising their grandkids or providing year-round part time care.

Grandparents are are more than just babysitters, they provide a unique generational connection.  Their stories and life experiences can provide a treasure trove of valuable links to the family’s past. Hard-earned wisdom can offer guidance when youngsters are searching for answers. They are unique.

If you’re a grandparent caring for your grandkids – God bless you! What a wonderful gift you are giving to your kids and their children. 

Now is a good time to educate yourself on the new medical discoveries made since you raised your own children by asking your grandchild's parents to share information.  The medical profession has learned a lot about having infants sleep safely on their backs and on safer over-the-counter medications for illnesses, as well as many other things. A child safety update can be enormously beneficial. 

It may have been a while since you’ve been in charge of a little one’s care; to help freshen up on child home safety, here is a list of safety recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics:

Nursery & Sleeping Area -

•       If you saved your own child's crib, stored in your attic or garage, per­haps awaiting the arrival of a grandchild someday, you should replace it with a new one. Guidelines for children's furniture and equipment have changed dramatically, and a crib that is more than a few years old will not meet today's safety standards. This is likely also true for other saved and aging furniture that could pose risks to children, such as an old playpen.

•       Buy a changing table, use your own bed, or even a towel on the floor to change the baby's diapers. As she gets a little older, and she becomes more likely to squirm, you may need a second person to help in changing her diaper.

•       Do not allow your grandchild to sleep in your bed.

•       Keep the diaper pail emptied.

Kitchen -

•       Put "kiddie locks" on the cabinets; to be extra safe, move unsafe cleansers and chemicals so they're completely out of reach.

•       Remove any dangling cords, such as those from the coffeepot or toaster.

•       Take extra precautions before giving your grandchild food prepared in microwave ovens. Microwaves can heat liquids and solids unevenly, and they may be mildly warm on the outside but very hot on the in­side.

Bathroom -

•       Store pills, inhalers, and other prescription or nonprescription medi­cations, as well as medical equipment, locked and out of the reach of your grandchild. Be especially vigilant that all medications of any kind are kept up and away from a child's reach and sight.

•       Put nonslip material in the bathtub to avoid dangerous falls.

•       If there are handles and bars in the bathtub for your own use, cover them with soft material if you are going to be bathing the baby there.

•       Never leave a child unattended in a tub or sink filled with water.

Baby Equipment Safety

•       Never leave your grandchild alone in a high chair or in an infant seat located in high places, such as a table or countertop.

•       Do not use baby walkers.

Toy Safety:

•       Buy new toys for your grandchild that has a variety of sounds, sights, and colors. Simple toys can be just as good. Remember, no matter how fancy the toys may be your own interac­tion and play with your grandchild are much more important.

•       Toys, CDs, and books should be age-appropriate and challenge chil­dren at their own developmental level.

•       Avoid toys with small parts that the baby could put into her mouth and swallow. Follow the recommendations on the package to find toys suitable for your grandchild's age.

•       Because toy boxes can be dangerous, keep them out of your home, or look for one without a top or lid.

Garage and Basements

•       Make sure that the automatic reversing mechanism on the garage door is operating.

•       Keep all garden chemicals and pesticides as well as tools in a locked cabinet and out of reach.

•       Make sure that freezers, refrigerator and washing machines are not accessible. 

These safety tips can help recharge your memory when it comes to caring for small children as well as offer some new ideas on making your home a safer place for them to visit.

Times have changed since your children were young. Your energy level may not be quite as high as it once was, so planning the day with rest breaks included can help you and the kids.

 While some things may have changed, love is still the universal ingredient that helps children thrive and grandparents have plenty of that!

Sources: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/safety-prevention/at-home/Pages/A-Message-for-Grandparents-Keeping-Your-Grandchild-Safe-in-Your-Home.aspx

https://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/work-play/Pages/A-Message-for-Grandparents-Who-Provide-Childcare.aspx

 

 

Your Child

“Is Santa Real?”

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This time of year Santa is on the minds of little ones around the world. He’s also on the minds of many parents facing that tricky question, “Is Santa real?”

Who can resist the story of a jolly old man with a beard, driving a sleigh loaded with presents for boys and girls and pulled by flying reindeer?

It’s not true of course, but that doesn’t stop millions of us from passing on the story we learned as children to our own little ones. It’s a tradition that seems to never get old or fade away.

There comes a time however, when children begin to suspect that Santa isn’t real. How a parent handles the moment of truth can affect how a child will react.

Many kids begin to hear that Santa isn’t real from classmates or friends or even an older sibling. Some children may be devastated, and others may shrug it off and move on. You never quite know.

How do you know when it’s time to let children in on the big secret?

"There's really no one right time to tell kids that there's no Santa Claus," says Glen Elliott, Ph.D. Elliott is an associate professor and the Director of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychology at the University of California, San Francisco. "The important thing is to take your cues from the child, and not try to prolong the fantasy for your own enjoyment when they may be ready to give it up."

Follow your child’s lead is a good tip. You know your child best, so consider his or her age and maturity before springing the truth on them. Kids typically begin having some doubts around 6-8 years old.

If your child is beginning to ask questions about Santa being real, it may be a way to confirm their suspicions that he’s not or they could simply want reassurance that Santa will arrive this Christmas.

For instance, your daughter might start getting suspicious about the three different Santas she sees during the course of a day of shopping. Or your son might ask questions about how Santa can get to every house in the world in one night, or how he gets into houses with no chimneys. All logical questions as a child learns how to develop a sequential order to things. Children who begin to ask a lot of logical questions about Santa Claus are probably ready to start hearing the truth about him.

Just as kids give you signals when they're ready to give up Santa, they also let you know when they're not. If a child is too young, they may not even comprehend what you are telling them. The younger the child, the more real Santa seems. Santa is Santa and he comes every Christmas – no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

So, how do you make that transition between real Santa and no Santa? There’s several ways to approach the topic.

Help your child understand a more generous and loving side to Santa. The magic of Santa isn’t just about doling out material gifts, but also of spreading joy, kindness and love around the world. You can suggest to your child that we all can be Santas by helping others. We can all spread a little happiness – just like Santa does- by giving to others, even those we don’t know.  The emphasis becomes doing something for someone else.  There are many charities that depend on people to donate gifts for children in need. Plan a shopping date to buy toys or clothes for less fortunate children and let your child pick out what to buy. Let your child be a part of giving not just receiving.

Another approach is to talk about your own childhood and how you too believed there was a Santa. Tell your little one about how you felt when you learned that Santa wasn’t real and how it became ok once you understood. Also, there are many books available with excellent stories on the non-reality of Santa you can read with your child.

Some children are afraid that if there is no Santa, there’s no Christmas. Explain that is never the case. Christmas is much more than Santa and toys. It’s actually a religious holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus. For Christians and some other faiths, the story of the birth of Jesus reveals a much deeper meaning that revolves around family, sacrifice, love and giving.

The magic of Christmas doesn’t fade away once you tell your child there is no Santa. Just like every other passage in life, we learn to adjust and keep the beauty of the tradition while creating a new experience to take its place.

Santa may not be a real person, but he does have many lessons to teach us. The best story I’ve read about telling a child the story of Santa comes from writer, Martha Brokenbrough. She penned an article for the New York Times that encapsulates the heart of the Santa story. This is a good start to finishing the question, is Santa real?

The article addresses a question her daughter, Lucy, asked, “Are you Santa?”

Here is a segment of that story:

“Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch.

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments.

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy.

With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible.

So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too.”

Story sources: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/when-santa-stops-being-real#1

http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/12/16/no-longer-believing-in-santa/?_r=0

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